Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Ranked #41 in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, our program provides students with advanced theoretical, legal, and methodological training for research, teaching, and management careers in criminal justice. The program serves to educate criminal justice professionals and prepare students for further advanced graduate work, legal studies, and scholarship. The Master of Science program in Criminal Justice is taught entirely online with four synchronous sessions a semester. Unlike other online programs, where students have no direct interaction with faculty and peers, here students have the opportunity to interact in a virtual setting in each course, but maintain the flexibility of never having to come to campus.

Program Admission

Applications to the program are due by July 1 for the fall semester and by November 1 for the spring semester. Students are strongly encouraged to apply early. Application for admission does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

The formal Marshall application process can be found on the Graduate Admissions page.

To be considered for admission to the M.S. program, all applicants must provide a complete application file that contains the following items (all materials submitted to the Graduate Admissions Office):

  • a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university (preference will be given to applicants with undergraduate majors in criminal justice or closely related social science discipline);
  • an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale as documented on an official, final degree transcript from the applicant’s baccalaureate degree-awarding institution;
  • GRE scores (will be evaluated in combination with the undergraduate GPA);
  • for international students, a score of 550 or higher on the TOEFL (old paper-based test), or a score of 213 (computer test), or a score of 79 (Internet-based test);
  • a C or better in an undergraduate research methods course or equivalent (documentation of course content may be required);
  • two letters of recommendation (college instructors strongly preferred); and
  • a personal statement (1-2 page essay regarding the student’s interest in criminal justice and how the MS in Criminal Justice degree will benefit him or her).

Waivers: Applicants may qualify for a waiver of the GRE requirement if the student (1) possesses an overall GPA of 3.30 or higher as evidenced by his/her official, final degree transcript from the applicant’s baccalaureate degree-awarding institution, or (2) by completion of a master’s degree in a related field. Applicants who completed a previous master’s degree must submit an official, final transcript from the applicant’s master’s degree-awarding institution as evidence of qualifying for the waiver.

Students may be considered for provisional admission or conditional enrollment. All prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact the Criminal Justice Graduate Director before applying to the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program to discuss the application process and requirements.

Criminal Justice and Criminology is housed on the Huntington campus. However, all application material (including letters of reference) must be sent directly to the graduate admission’s office in South Charleston at the following address:

Marshall University
Graduate Records and Admissions
100 Angus E. Peyton Drive
South Charleston, WV 25303-1600

For questions regarding application status, please contact an admissions counselor at 304-696-5034 (toll free 800-642-3463) 

International Students: Please contact the Center for International Programs, Marshall University, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, West Virginia 25755-1054 U.S.A. Send email to or visit the CIP web site at Marshall University is approved for attendance of non-immigrant students under the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Core Curriculum

The Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice requires the completion of 30 credits of coursework. In total, students take 18 credits of core courses and 12 credits of electives. The curriculum is structured around a set of core requirements that provide a broad foundation in criminological theory, research and statistics, criminal law as well as aspects of criminal justice policy and practice.

Core Requirements
All students are required to complete 18 credits of core courses:

  • CJ 601: Seminar in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 604: Advanced Theory in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 621: Contemporary Law & Society (3 cr.)
  • CJ 655: Research Methods in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 656: Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 699: Capstone Experience (3 cr.) or CJ 681: Thesis (3 cr.)

Students can choose from a variety of electives. A total of 12 hours of electives are required. Courses outside of the discipline in related fields may be taken with approval from the Graduate Director.

Click here for graduate Criminal Justice Course Descriptions for individual courses.

Two C Rule

A student who earns more than two grades of C or lower in any graduate courses will be withdrawn from the program.

Plan of Study

Before registration for the 12th graduate credit hour, all graduate students must complete an official Plan of Study form to be approved by the Graduate Director and/or Department Chair and submitted to the Graduate College Office.

Choosing Classes

All curriculum choices should be made in consultation with the Graduate Director. Students should keep in mind that they cannot retake undergraduate/graduate classes they took as an undergraduate student at Marshall University (if applicable).

Program Graduate Director

All new graduate students must meet with the Graduate Director before their first semester as a graduate student. The Graduate Director is Dr. Kimberly DeTardo-Bora (304-696-3084 — Once admitted to the program, students should contact her immediately to set up an initial appointment.